Frequently Asked Questions
This page contains the history of the MAME cabinet housed at VHS.
Summary: This project was initially started with the goal to use the original monitor, however, after much tweaking and a consensus with the group, it was decided to use a regular computer flat screen, as it would allow the system to perform more functions such as jukebox, and webserver. The monitor, Jamma board, and power supply were traded to the Hackery in exchange for a suitable flatscreen. A bracket was fabricated at the CoLab and the screen was put in place. At this point, the MAME cabinet worked well, but was not intuitive, as it lacked a MAME front end.
Update: So the XBox idea didn't really fly - mostly because I couldn't find a JAMMA to XBox converter that supported four players and we need something to happen with that MAME cabinet soon, as it takes up a lot of space.
Please modify as you see fit. I know at least one of you (was it Dallas?) has built a MAME system before.
Blitz 99 Sketchup model!!
I have discovered that that JAMMA protocol actually only supports 2 players with 3 buttons each, so it appears that our cabinet is JAMMA Plus, which is a pretty loose spec. I took a close look at it on Dec 23, and I think we're in good shape. Ultimarc offer two products, the J-Pac, which is a JAMMA to PC interface, and the I-Pac, which is a button to PC interface. The issue was that I really wanted to use the J-Pac interface, which should allow us to use the built-in monitor, but it only supports two players. Eventually, after some searching, I found that there is a mode where you can connect an I-Pac to a J-Pac to get full 4 player ability. There's even some space for some extra buttons if we want to go that route down the road. I have ordered the JPac, and it's arrived. I'm still waiting for the IPac.
There is currently a motherboard and processor that can be used as the MAME pc, but it still needs RAM, a hard drive, power supply (and case?). After some research, it appears that the JPac will pass the signal from the PC to the arcade monitor, but these monitors run at 15Khz, which is too low for most modern video cards. We'll either have to find an old card (and maybe an old pc that will run it), or go with the VGAArcade card from Ultimarc, which will be another $90.
Dec 20th, 2010 The I-Pac arrived Jan 4th. I installed the WinIPAC software that came with it. The issue with using the IPAC-2 and the J-Pac together, is that both will send the same keyboard keystrokes, as both the IPac and the JPac with think they are Players 1 and 2, when really, the JPac will control Players 1 and 2, and the IPac will control Players 3 and 4. To do this, I found the standard MAME key assignments for Players 3 and 4 at http://www.ultimarc.com/ipac2.html under the section that says IPac 4 only. I then opened WinIPAC and reassigned the keystrokes based on that website. Note that there is still room on the IPac and JPac for three more buttons each, but I've left those spots unassigned for now.
Jan 15th, 2011 Last week I did a bit of research and found that there is a software alternative to purchasing the VGAArcade card called Soft15Khz, but it worked with a very limited types of cards. Coincidently, at work they were disposing of an older machine that happened to have the right card, so I asked the boss and took it home. Then I began installing software. I started with Soft15Khz, which appears to work, but it's hard to tell as it doesn't seem to report the complete information on the resolution. Then I installed MAMEUIFX as the MAME emulator. Then I put a sample pack of some ROMS in to the ROMS folder under MAMEUIFX. Finally, once I specified the ROM folder, MAMEUIFX was up and running. I also put the ArcadeMAME binaries on the machine, but decided against using is after some early (user patience) issues. Also, I put a copy of all the software used in this project, including a copy of the Ultimarc utility disk, in C:\MAME Setup. I used the Ultimarc CD to install WINIPAC in case we have to reassign the controllers on the IPAC. I also put a link to QuickRes on the Desktop. Running this installs a systray icon that allows you to change your resolution quickly. The standard way to change the resolution no longer applies since soft15Khz was installed. I think it's greyed out or something. The only issue with MAME is that it gives a error about sound drivers. I have the sound drivers for the onboard soundcard (but hey, if anybody has anything better…). The drivers are on a grey and blue USB stick which I forgot at the space. The PC is at the space now. It logs in automatically, but the authentication is vhs/vhs.
With MAME mostly working on the PC, I started on the controls. The first thing I noticed was that the Player 3 and 4 controls are not labeled. They plug into the board through different connectors then the JAMMA stuff. To make it worse, there is a connector between the board and the controls, and they use two different coloring schemes. Daunted at first, I traced P4-SW3 (Player 4, button 3) back to the board, and it was the last wire on the connector. Then I traced P4-SW2 and it was the second last wire on the connector. At this point, I noticed a schematic on the JAMMA part of the board. It was basically a pinout for the JAMMA spec. It had P1-SW3 at the end and P1-SW2 next to it. So I took a change and wired the IPAC assuming the wires to players 3 and 4 followed the same schema as players 1 and 2. If these are incorrect, there are two methods to solve it; we can change the wires on the IPAC, or we can start WINIPAC and reassign the controller in the IPAC firmware. Let's hope everything is good.
Jan 18, 2011
Big steps tonight. I connected the JAPC and IPAC to the PC and confirmed that all buttons and joystick movements are outputting characters. They may not be the correct characters, but it's a start. Also, I was able to use Soft15kHz and QuickRes to display Windows on the arcade monitor. The ArcadeInfo.de forum contains the thread (in German) the mentions which Catalyst version works with each video card. When I launched QuickRes, it started in the systray as normal. Then I made some changes to Soft15kHz and all the resolutions became available in QuickRes. Unfortunately, I did everything so quick that I didn't document my steps, and I was not able to get the resolutions to display in QuickRes again, but at least I've proved it's possible. I wasn't able to test if I had mapped the controls correctly because MAME wouldn't start on the host machine. It was stuck in some funky resolution and for some reason, couldn't find the correct DirectX version.
Jan 22, 2011
SHHH event. I installed the Catalyst Drivers 6.1, which required DotNet 2 as well. Luckily, I had my laptop and a memory stick to get the downloads to the machine, as there's no wireless card in it. After installing Catalyst, I started Soft15khz and installed the 15khz and 30khz 'drivers'. Now, QuickRes would give me additional resolutions that I needed. When I connected the monitor (and JPAC, which seems to be required, as it draws power of the USB), I could see the Windows image on the screen, but there were problems with the desktop not taking up enough of the screen. Derek and I made some changes to the H Hold and H Width, but it was never really perfect. However, despite this, we were able to start MAME, and play a one player game of Commando. All the joystick controls for Player 1 were configured correctly! Also, at one point I had the resolution set so that it neither worked on the monitor, nor the arcade display. The cure for this was to uninstall the Catalyst drivers, reboot, then reinstall them. After doing this, I set the display settings to prompt for each change. Now if you change the resolution to an unsupported rate, just hit the escape key to go back to on that worked. Also, I've enabled Remote Desktop. Might be a little tricky to connect to until I get a wireless card in there.
March 19 - 22, 2011
After a hiatus of of a couple of months, I finally made it back down to the space for SHHH. With a fresh set of eyes, I was able to get the video looking decent on the arcade monitor. I did this by installing the custom resolutions in Soft15kHz, which requires nothing more then clicking the Custom Resolutions button in the app. Once this was done, I was able to connect the arcade monitor and see Windows on the screen. It's quite difficult to navigate, as the resolution means not much fits on the screen at once. With this done, I started MAMEFX, which started fine, but would not run in native mode, and instead, ran within a screen in Windows.
On Tuesday, I went back down to the space with two intentions, first, I wanted to mount the IPAC and JPAC properly, so the wires weren't dangling. I did this without too much effort. Then I installed a new version of MAME, and the EASYMAME front end. With this new software installed, I has some measure of luck. I was able to get the game selection screen in native resolution (full screen, not running in Windows). For some reason, the native resolution was less then perfect for the EasyMAME selection utility. So bad in fact that you pretty much have to guess which game you're loading. The next issue I encountered is that there seems to be no Select button configured in the front end. This is likely just a tweak to EasyMAME. The next issue was that I was not able to get the service button to work like I was inserting quarters. This is the button on the far right on the bank of buttons when you open the coin tray. I think the easiest solution for this is to wire a new coin button directly to the IPAC or JPAC. So to play a game:
1) connect the arcade monitor to the desktop 2) connect the keyboard and mouse to the desktop 3) connect the USB cable for the JPAC and IPAC to the desktop 4) start the desktop 5) turn on the arcade system 6) use the mouse to double click the EasyMAME icon on the desktop (If you're unable to see Windows on the arcade monitor, the resolution may be set too high. Connect the LCD screen, start QuickRES, and change the resolution to the 320 x 280 (or something close to those numbers) 7) use the mouse to select the game to play from the EasyMAME front end 8) use the keyboard to insert coins. It's the 6 key (not the numberpad one)
Some games seem to have better resolution then others. Mrs PacMan was quite good, but 1942 was a bit fuzzy.
NOTES: The Winnitron guys were at the space for SHHH. We have decided to hand over the cabinet to them to use for a Winnitron. We were chatting and we have some great ideas about how to make it portable. I've decided to keep going on the MAME cabinet until then, just for kicks. It should be cool!
Create a small bat file that launches EasyMAME directly into game selection mode. Then we should need the monitor any more. Check the EasyMAME config to see if we can allocate a button to use as ENTER once we've selected a game. Then we won't need the mouse any more. Install a better button for quarter feed, and wire to the IPAC. Once this is done, we shouldn't need the keyboard. Install the Audio drivers Instead of getting the audio from the JPAC, I think it would be better to go from the computer to a small amp, and out to the speakers. Confirm that the rest of the controls (players 2, 3, and 4) are mapped properly. If they are not, use WINIPAC to remap. If it doesn't work on the MAME computer, I have a working copy on my laptop. The Ultimarc disk is at the space, and also installed on the computer. Wire the PC Power button into the arcade power. Think of clever name for project - Connect the Audio out to the JPAC and see if we can get some sound. - Get a decent front end running.